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Apr 5, 2016 at 2:48 pm #29909LouisGuest
What’s the origin of the Magic Valley “skyquakes?
Ghost riders in the sky? An X-Files-worthy military project? A so-called skyquake? Dozens of Magic Valley residents reported hearing a loud boom Sunday night that shook windows and rattled nerves, but the cause is unclear.
“It was almost like a sonic boom,” Twin Falls City Councilwoman Ruth Pierce said. “The windows rattled a little bit. It was very short … I could hear it above the television.”
Pierce posted on Facebook at 8:05 p.m. Sunday: “Did anyone just hear a big boom?”
More than a dozen people responded that they’d heard the loud noise too, including at least one person who said she lives in Jerome.
“It felt like our whole house was going to fall into the canyon,” one Facebook user commented, while another said she thought part of her house collapsed.
A woman who lives on Pole Line Road East near the Snake River Canyon rim said she heard what sounded like a dynamite blast and later saw a cloud of smoke or dust rising from the north side of the Snake River Canyon.
“It shook my entire house,” Sara Bloss said. “It freaked me out. I went to my bedroom window and looked outside but I didn’t see anything, and then I went outside.”
Looking north across the canyon just a few minutes after hearing the blast, Bloss said she saw a plume of smoke or dust.
“It looked like it came off the ground and was slowly dissipating and rising,” Bloss said. “It was yellowish or maybe even greenish. It was a different color than the sky.”
Jerome County Sheriff Doug McFall said his department had no reports of any explosions or loud booms coming from the northeast canyon rim area Sunday night. He suggested it could possibly have something to do with blasting at a Jerome Highway District gravel pit in the area.
But that agency said it wasn’t responsible for any explosions Sunday night, though one official suggested it might have something to do with an Idaho Department of Transportation project.
“I know it wasn’t us,” ITD spokesman Nathan Jerke said. “We don’t have any projects in that vicinity.”
Jerke said it would also be very rare for ITD to work on a project on a Sunday night.
The noise wasn’t an earthquake either. Seismic data shows the most recent earthquake near the Magic Valley was a 1.4-magnitude tremor just before 2 p.m. Sunday near the Montana border about 63 miles southeast of Salmon.
Twin Falls authorities said they didn’t cause or know what caused the boom. City spokesman Joshua Palmer said he read about the noise on social media but didn’t hear anything from police or city crews about what it might have been.
The National Weather Service in Boise said the noise could possibly be a cloud-to-cloud lightning strike, though it is unlikely. There was a lightning strike about 5 miles west of Rogerson between 7 and 8 p.m. Sunday.
“That was the closest it got to Twin Falls,” said Dave Groenert, a meteorologist with the weather service. “But people up in the city probably wouldn’t hear that.”
The Air Force did not respond to messages about whether the noise might have come from aircraft at the Mountain Home Air Force Base.
For years, Magic Valley residents have reported rumbling, often dubbed “skyquakes.” The noise and rattling is sometimes described as being similar to the sound of a passing freight train or people running up and down stairs.